Star, director, audience, critics — these are all terms normally associated with a stage production. And they still are — of a sort — when they refer to home staging.
“The star is the homeowner, the director is the stager, the audience members are the potential buyers, and the critics are the real estate agents,” explained Barb Schwarz, founder and president of the California-based International Association of Home Staging Professionals, adding that the parallels continue with all the attention paid to lighting and “props,” or furniture and accessories.
“Staging is so much more than ‘Paint your front door red,’ ” Ms. Schwarz said. “Staging is depersonalizing - you’re showing off the house, not the homeowner, so you can appeal to the most buyers. No one will buy a house that they can’t mentally move into.”
“The home that is highly cluttered and filled with personal items, and the completely vacant home without any furniture - it’s hard for buyers to imagine themselves in either scenario,” he said. “In the cluttered home, it’s impossible. In the vacant house, the home actually looks smaller. It’s reverse psychology, but that’s true.”
Stagers can work with either lived-in homes or vacant homes and offer a range of services to accommodate the homeowner’s budget. Typically, a stager will come to a house and walk through with the owner and sometimes the Realtor as well; this usually takes one to two hours. In full-service staging, the stager then prepares a detailed report within a day or two, listing precisely what will be done and for what price.
“The written proposal and bid generally costs around $350 to $500,” explained Trish Kim, CEO of Staged Interior, a staging firm in Centreville. She also walks through homes and gives verbal suggestions while the owners take notes, she said, and this typically costs $250.
“If we wind up taking on the job, the total staging fee might run anywhere from $1,800 to $15,000 for the first two months of staging,” she said.
The price variable comes down to factors such as the size of the home, the amount of clutter involved, and how much furniture and accessories have to be brought in. (Even lived-in homes often need furniture and accessories.)
The rental inventory fee for furniture and accessories can range from $500 to $5,000, Ms. Schwarz said, explaining that stagers either rent out their own pieces or use furniture rental companies.
“If you rent from a furniture rental company, the monthly rental is 20 percent the value of the piece,” she said.
Ms. Kim said she encourages her clients to view staging as an investment and noted that it’s one with a high return.
“In the first nine months of 2011, our homes were on the market for only 23 days,” she said, pointing out that the Washington-area average is 75 days. “And our closing price is 3.3 percent higher than other closing prices.”
To save money, some owners opt for a partial staging.
“So we’ll fully stage the living room, the dining room and the master bedroom — and then do ‘vignette staging’ for the rest of the house,” Ms. Schwarz said, explaining that vignette staging consists of using three items of varying heights in each room. “So a den might have a fichus tree (high), a wingback chair (medium) and a table with books on it (low).”View Entire Story
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